With Braxton's debut, rumors had circulated that Alan Menken would pen a new song for the singer. While it is true that a new Menken song is being worked on, it is unclear whether the piece will be added before Braxton's official opening night, set for some time mid-October, according to a spokesperson at Boneau Bryan-Brown.
Braxton, who will play Belle, is the recipient of five Grammy awards. Her albums have sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. Braxton's hit songs include "Love Shoulda Brought You Home," "Unbreak My Heart," and "How Could an Angel Break My Heart."
Taylor, best known as the handyman to television's "Designing Women" and for his role in filmdom's Mannequin and Mannequin Two, will play Lumiere, the saucy candelabrum who sings the anthem, "Be Our Guest."
Barbour, the musical's new Beast, played that role in the Los Angeles company of the show. His previous Broadway credits include the role of Billy Bigelow in Carousel at Lincoln Center and Cyrano: The Musical. Beauty recently lost its star Belle when Deborah Gibson, another veteran of the pop charts, left the show on June 28 (she then played Louise in a NJ Gypsy opposite Betty Buckley). Kim Huber now essays the role of Belle. Huber was the understudy to the original Belle, Susan Egan and comes to the show from the Beauty and the Beast touring company.
Braxton is only the latest singing star to cross over to theatre from the world of pop music. Deborah Gibson has been in Les Miserables, Grease! and Beauty and the Beast. Here are some others:
In GREASE!: Sheena Easton, Debby Boone, Jon Secada, Mickey Dolenz, Davy Jones, Chubby Checker, Al Jarreau, Darlene Love
In SPEED-THE-PLOW: Madonna
In THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE: Linda Ronstadt, Rex Smith, Maureen McGovern
In BLOOD BROTHERS: Petula Clark, Helen Reddy, Carole King, Shawn Cassidy, David Cassidy
In KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN: Vanessa Williams
In LES MISERABLES: Ricky Martin, Melba Moore, Gary Morris
In THE WILL ROGERS FOLLIES: Keith Carradine, Mac Davis
In THE ELEPHANT MAN: David Bowie
In THE CAPE MAN: Marc Antony, Reuben Blades
In BALM IN GILEAD: Tom Waits
In THE NIGHT THAT MADE AMERICA FAMOUS: Harry Chapin
In THE THREEPENNY OPERA: Sting
In VICTOR/VICTORIA (tour only): Toni Tennille
In WHAT MAKES SAMMY RUN: Steve Lawrence
In GOLDEN RAINBOW: Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme
In CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF: Burl Ives.